It was not that long ago that we saw the winner of the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction, and the lukewarm reaction I had to both the longlist and the winner has damped my enthusiasm for this prize. However, I admire what the it stands for, and the choice of Bernadine Evaristo as a judge gives me hope, so I will decide on how much I’ll be following the prize this year depending on the list.
I always suck at these predictions, but here we go:
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel was a great mystery read, and I think it has good chances to be longlisted – it’s the story of a young woman who works in a fancy hotel in the middle of nowhere and meets a man who she ends up in a relationship with. It turns out he’s running a Ponzi scheme, and when it all comes crashing down, there will be dire consequences.
Luster by Raven Leilani is a book that I am going to be shocked if it doesn’t make it to the longlist – it’s the kind of book that the Women’s Prize seem to really like, namely a Messy Woman Trope, plus it’s been causing quite a stir in the literary circles. There were other books of this trope coming out last year (Pizza Girl by Jean Kyoung Frazier was my favorite), but I’d say this has the best chance to be longlisted!
Okay so I’ve seen no reivews for How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue and its rating in Goodreads is a bit meh, but I’d honestly be excited to see this title in the list: it’s a story that focuses on environmental issues caused by an American oil company, which I think is incredibly timely and relevant. I have an eARC for this and would love an “excuse” to bump it up my reading list.
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke is the book I’m most excited for and really, really hope it gets longlisted. It tells the story of Piranesi, who lives in a labyrinth. This sounds like a dark, whimsical, magical and mysterious read and I will probably get this book, whether it’s longlisted or not!
Summerwater by Sarah Moss has kind of gone under the radar (to be fair, anything published last year went under the radar, at least for me) but I heard nothing but amazing things about it! After Ghost Wall blew my mind in 2019, I would love to see Sarah Moss in the list again.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett is one I am quite sure about (lol watch me be hella wrong in one day)! This is a book about two Black sisters who end up leading very different lives and have opposite relationships with their identity: one has embraced her Blackness and the other does what she can to pass for white. This sounds like an incredible read and I hope it makes it to the longlist so I have a great excuse to get this book!
I think How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C. Pam Zhang is eligible – it came out last April, but I’m not sure about the release date in the UK. This is set during the Gold Rush times in the United States and it tells the story of two siblings who are children of immigrants and trying to survive. It sounds like such an intriguing and poignant read – I’d love to pick this up if it gets longlisted!
Pew by Catherine Lacey is a book I have seen only a few reviews for, but I think it has good chances of being longlisted – it honestly does not attract my attention much but other people who read it really enjoyed it.
I first learned about The Sin Eater by Megan Campisi while I was looking for which books would be eligible this year, and this caught my eye as something that would also be very typical for the Women’s Prize: a dark, weird story about women who eat the sins of their people and are shunned from society for it, even though they’re only doing their duty. It sounds depressing, so frankly I think this stands a pretty good chance.